Turkish soldier defends himself after fatally running over five-year-old child

Turkish soldier defends himself after fatally running over five-year-old child
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The sergeant who struck and killed a child has denied that he was speeding and claimed that the child jumped in front of him.

A Turkish sergeant who ran over and killed a five-year-old child in Turkey's Kurdish-majority town of Yuksekova, said in his statement to the prosecutor that he was driving at a moderate speed and the child jumped in front of the vehicle, +Gercek's Remzi Budancir reported.

He also claimed that he left the scene instead of taking the child to the hospital because of people's strong reactions. "People gathered around me and some started yelling and throwing insults at me," he said.

The child, named Erdem Askan, was killed on Wednesday when the vehicle driven by sergeant Alper Kaan P. ran over him.

The mother of the child told the prosecutor that she was with her two children on the sidewalk at the time of the incident.

"I never stopped holding the hand of my child," she said. "We were standing on the sidewalk. The vehicle came speeding and struck the instant he stepped down. I did not let my child's hand go even for a second."

A driver who saw the sergeant speed past him before hitting the child said: "I was driving at 60 km per hour. He came speeding from behind and drove past me. He must have been driving at 150 km per hour. I didn't even have time to give way."

While the case was referred by the prosecution to court, the prosecutor asked for the release of the sergeant.

The chair of the bar association in Hakkari, Ergun Canan, told bianet:

"Unfortunately this incident is neither the first nor will be the last one (...) Effective investigations are not conducted in such cases, and state forces are protected by a shield of impunity."

According to a recent report by Turkey's Human Rights Association (IHD), 44 people, 21 children among them, have been fatally run over by armored vehicles and other vehicles driven by state troops in the last 15 years in Kurdish-majority provinces. A further 94 people, including 23 children, have been injured in such incidents.

In a similar case in the Kurdish-majority town of Silopi, after the seven-year-old Mirac Miroglu was fatally run over by a police armored vehicle in September 2021, the governor told that he watched the video footage and saw that the vehicle was progressing at a slow speed. The driving police officer was immediately released after his statement at the prosecutor's office.